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SPARC® for Concepts
Ages: 4-10   Grades: PreK-5

These pictures and stimuli progress systematically to teach children more than 90 concepts they need for success in school.    


  • Learn 90 concepts critical to school success
  • Understand spatial, attribute, quantitative, temporal, and comparative/superlative concepts
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Busy clinicians rely on the SPARC series for:

  • convenience and portability
  • systematic progression of activities
  • tons of practice opportunities
  • easy measures of progress
  • loads of pictures and stimuli
  • use with a variety of treatment approaches

The lessons are organized in five units.  Each concept is presented with its opposite or a negative example when no opposite is available.  The units are:

  • Spatial—above/below, around/through, between, and more
  • Attributes—large/small, heavy/light, same/different, and more
  • Quantity—more/less, whole/half, pair, and more
  • Temporal—before/after and beginning/end
  • Comparatives/Superlatives—tall/taller/tallest, short/shorter/shortest, and more

Each concept is taught in this progression:  

  • Concept Example Pictures—ten pictures illustrate the target concept(s) and its opposite
  • Contrast Pictures—nine mini-scenes each contain two or three examples of the target concept and its opposite
  • Concept Scenes—one full-page scene contains multiple examples of the target concept and non-examples of the concept.  The scene has directions and questions for receptive and expressive practice. 

Copyright © 1996

226 pages
  • Direct and indirect instruction of vocabulary words helps students boost reading comprehension and improve performance for semantic tasks (NRP, 2000).
  • Impairment in the ability to comprehend concepts will negatively affect communication and should be targeted for intervention (ASHA, 2000).
  • Students need to understand semantic connections among words.  It may be necessary to target understanding of basic concepts that underpin the vocabulary required to access the curriculum (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Vocabulary differences in children with high vocabulary skills compared to children with low vocabulary skills can be as much as 4,000 root words in the 2nd grade.  Children who are struggling will not "catch up" in their vocabulary development without direct instruction on meaningful words over multiple trials (Biemiller, 2003).

SPARC for Concepts incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2000). Guidelines for roles and responsibilities of the school-based speech-language pathologist [Guidelines]. Retrieved on August 3, 2009, from

Biemiller, A. (2003). Vocabulary: Needed if more children are to read well. Reading Psychology, 24, 323-335.

National Reading Panel (NRP). (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction-Reports of the subgroups. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from

Taylor-Goh, S. (2005). Royal college of speech and language therapists: Clinical guidelines. United Kingdom: Speechmark.


Catherine Chamberlain, Robin Strode Downing


Catherine Chamberlain, M.A., CCC-SLP, has had 24 years experience as a speech-language pathologist.  She maintains a private practice serving three- to sixteen-year-olds.  Catherine also works part-time at the Early Childhood Development Center in Winchester, Kentucky, and she formerly worked in the public schools for 14 years.  She has special interest in working with students with autism, mental disabilities, and multiple handicaps.  SPARC for Concepts is Catherine's sixth publication with LinguiSystems.

Robin Strode Downing, M.A., CCC-SLP, has had 22 years experience as a speech-language pathologist.  She has been in private practice for 14 years.  In addition to her private practice, Robin has served as a school consultant and part-time instructor in the Communication Disorders Department at the University of Kentucky.  She formerly worked in the public schools for eight years.  Robin has special interest in working with preschool and early elementary-aged children with developmental delays, language disorders, and/or speech disorders.  SPARC for Concepts is Robin's fourth publication with LinguiSystems.


SPARC for Concepts is designed to teach children comprehension and usage of a variety of concepts.  Proficiency with concepts is important for school success, particularly for direction-following and reading skills.  Each concept in SPARC for Concepts is taught in a progression of activities:

Concept Example Pictures

  • ten pairs of each concept
  • pictures illustrate the target concept(s) and its opposite (or a negative example when no opposite is available)

Contrast Pictures

  • nine mini-scenes
  • pictures contain two or three examples of the target concept(s), including its opposite (or non-examples of the concept when no opposite is available)
  • at least five pictures on each page are based on the Concept Example Pictures that the child has already practiced
  • these familiar concepts are now in a more abstract context
  • other pictures use the concept(s) in a new setting

Concept Scenes

  • one scene per concept or concept pair
  • full-page scenes contain multiple examples of the target concept(s) as well as non-examples of the concept
  • scenes are accompanied by directions and questions for specific receptive and expressive practice
  • use the scenes for more practice with the comparatives and superlatives

Comparative/Superlative Concept Pictures

  • one example picture and one contrast picture per concept
  • pictures illustrate target concepts in comparative and superlative forms

We've also included a list of children's books that contain the concepts addressed in this book.  These books will give you additional practice with the concepts as well as providing a literary experience for your students.

You'll find suggested uses for SPARC for Concepts included in this book.  These guidelines will get you started, but we're sure you'll have many more ideas for the concepts pictured.  Enjoy!

Catherine and Robin